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Good effort... - 85%

asmox, April 6th, 2007

What do you get when you toss apples, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, starfruit, gooseberries, chocolate ants, and a Chipotle burrito bowl into a giant blender, shut the lid, and turn the power on high? I have no idea, but I doubt it'd be very appealing.

Now, what do you get when you juxtapose the menacing dynamics and atmospherics of bands like The Ocean and Neurosis, the sludgy tones of Mastodon, the angular riffing of Meshuggah, the elegant and organic bass presence of Cynic, the ambient textural collages of Kayo Dot, and overtly intelligent drum work? Well, I suppose you'd get Intronaut's Void.

The point is, hybrid bands don't always work. You can wind up listening to something reasonably profound, or you can be subjected to a bunch of really annoying styles of music superglued together to make for a sadistically irritating, head-scratching nightmare. Void is only moderately profound, and you might look at it as a nightmare if you've got some intense aversion to syncopated rhythm, but otherwise it's a mostly solid album from start to finish.

The opener, "A Monolithic Vulgarity", begins with something that I swear is a direct adaptation of the intro to Kayo Dot's "Marathon". Ambient, ringing guitar chords - check. Subtle drum rolls - check. Pulsating cymbal washes - check. Then, with only several dissonant notes for warning, some oddly placed cymbal crashes interspersed throughout brooding drum rolls break the song into a distorted, sludgy mess. Around half-way through, there's a break that's reminiscent of Mastodon's groovy interludes... and then, closer towards the end, the distortion fades to make way for - yes - an upright acoustic bass. It's strange, but it works. The entire segment is very atmospheric and free-flowing... it almost feels like a solo spot in a big band jazz ensemble. This fades out, and Kayo Dot fades back in to finish off the track.

"Gleamer" is more upbeat and consistently unrelenting. Doesn't stop to take a break, but does lapse into several sections of stoner rock-like guitar hits backed by headache-inducing calculus problems on the drum kit. Ends with washes of unstable feedback evolving on top of expansive drum acrobatics.

The remainder of the album follows suit in one way or another. Void doesn't have a specific formula, per se, but it does maintain a similar mood throughout. Atmospherics, sludgy distortion, contrasting bass tones that really seem out of place at times, dark ambience, and uh... the drumming. One thing about this album that's highly consistent is drummer Danny Walker (ex-Uphill Battle, ex-Exhumed). The guy seems hell-bent on never, ever placing any drum hit where a sane person would think it should be. He is worse than Meshuggah's Tomas Haake. At least with Haake, you could whip out a scientific calculator and extrapolate where a given cymbal crash or snare hit would land in a measure relative to the previous measure. Not here. This isn't nearly as mechanical. It's bad... and yet so good. Even after months of listening to this album and years of listening to all sorts of technical metal, I still get confused when I try to follow the drums here. The guy is damn good, that's for sure. What makes it even better is that there are rarely any obnoxious fills to clutter things up - songs are comprised entirely of strange patterns, displaced beats, busy and unpredictable cymbal work, and syncopation galore.

Anyway, it's good stuff. I hear they're rather awesome live, as well.